The Current Evidence for Defining and Assessing Effectiveness of Surgical Educators: A Systematic Review

Karen J. Dickinson, Barbara L. Bass, Kevin Y. Pei

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Surgical educator effectiveness is valued but lacks an operational definition. Clearly defining attributes consistent with effective surgical educators allows for the development of professional activities directed to nurture these qualities. Our aim was to identify the literature defining qualities of an effective surgical educator, and tools to measure effectiveness. Methods: We searched PubMed, Medline, Scopus and Academic Search Complete for English language articles from 1 July 2009–1 July 2019. Two reviewers screened all abstracts for relevance and read full text of selected articles to identify included studies. Inclusion criteria were description/definition of an effective surgical educator or description of assessment/measurement of effectiveness in surgical educators. Data extracted included: study design, participants, definition/description of qualities of an effective surgical educator, qualitative or quantitative methods to assess surgical educators. Results: Initial search identified 8086 articles. Of these, 2357 articles were excluded as duplicates and 5729 abstracts screened with 5638 excluded due to irrelevance. Full text review was performed for 91 articles to assess eligibility, 23 met inclusion criteria. The majority (74%) did not clearly define an effective surgical educator. Themes from six studies that determined important qualities include: communication, leadership skills, professionalism, respect, positive learning climate, and brief-intraoperative teaching-debrief model. One validated assessment tool was identified. Conclusions: There is little published work defining or assessing effective surgical educators. Establishment of a positive learning climate and excellent communicationskills continue to be important qualities that define surgical educator effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3214-3223
Number of pages10
JournalWorld Journal of Surgery
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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